Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth spoke to the Czech website iSport.Cz on Monday, and boy oh boy did he have some fascinating opinions to share. Talking with František Suchan, Neuvirth departed from the meek personality he’s cultivated since joining the Capitals in ’08-’09 and spoke with remarkable candor about a wide range of topics. We’d like to direct your attention to his quotes on the goalie situation in D.C.— both last season and in the future. Neuvy says he considers Braden Holtby his “weakest competition” since he’s been in D.C., expresses his frustration over always being the “bridesmaid” in net, and admits that he urged Tomas Vokoun to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Get ready to have your mind blown.

UPDATE: Read our statement on interpretation and translation.

Related: Read Part II of the interview.

From iSport.Cz:

On his position as starting goalie on the club

It’s true that until now, I have never been an official number one. But I have played just over a hundred games in NHL. That’s nothing. I’m starting the season sure that I want to play forty/fifty games and I am really sure that I have the weakest competition (Braden Holtby) I’ve ever had. I will try to be number one goalie this season. Finally!

They say you’ve always been a bridesmaid in the crease, not the bride. You are always the second. How do you see it?

But it’s important to look at which players always were in tandem with me. At first – the Russian [Semyon Varlamov] who was always in front of me because he was drafted higher and played in the NHL sooner. It was hard to get in front of him. But in the end I played much more than he did. Last year, I had Voky (Tomáš Vokoun) next to me and I guessed in advance that he would probably get more space in the goal than I would. I came to camp ready, but it the end the season was as it was… I left it behind and I’m starting the new one ready to fight for my spot. This is the turning-point year in my life; it will decide where will I go on with my career.

In the end, neither of you (he and Voky) started in the playoffs, although you were supposed to be the Czech tandem going for the Stanley Cup…

It ended the worst it could have. But they say everything bad is good for something, and that’s how I take it. At least I had great fun with Voky. I got to know him as a person, I got to see how he gets ready, how he practices, what he does before the game and that helped me a lot. Besides we got really close, we are still in touch, I and my girlfriend visited him on Florida for a few days. We became great friends.

In the end you both got replaced by Holtby thanks to injuries…

[Vokoun and I] were both really sorry about that. We were angry that neither of us started in the playoffs, there’s no doubt in that. But that’s the life, things like that happen in sports, and we can’t do anything else than to forget about that last season. Voky is going to fight in Pittsburgh and I in Washington.

You mentioned that Holtby is the weakest competition, but he was awesome in playoffs, don’t you think?

He sure is a great goalie. But I can’t compare him to Voky or Varlamov, that’s what I meant. In comparison to those two, he played nothing in the NHL and that’s why I take him as the weakest of them three. I’m definitely not saying that he is bad, not at all. I actually like the way he plays. But he is the worst of them three, that’s all.

I’m not afraid because of how he did in the playoffs. I think that a year ago I played in the playoffs the same as he did now. They always say that the second season is the turning point, I’m curious how he will do…

He is a friend, too, of course. I actually always try to be friends with the other goalie, I don’t like to start a fight. We get along with Holtby pretty well, we played together for two years on the farm club. He was my number two there, when we won the Calder Cup twice, so we have known each other for a long time, over four years. We are not such friends to go out for dinner with each other, but we sit next to each other in the locker room and we always chat. But we don’t do “dates.”

On injuries

I’m definitely doing things not to get injured again. That’s what I focused on during the summer, I’m trying to make stronger those parts of my body that hurt me before when there was a hard moment during the season. But last year it was different, I was well prepared the whole time and then a player fell on me when I was in a split. You can practice all you want, but you can’t stop getting injured in such a situation.

On Vokoun

I was the one who advised him to leave for Pittsburgh. I know he had many offers from Russia [Editor's note: Vokoun had been rumored to be considering joining the reformed Lokomotiv team], but I told him not to go there especially. Just when I was at his place, a few teams contacted him and I told him to go with the Pens. He has a big chance to win the Stanley Cup there. Besides, they told [Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury] he will play less, because his last playoffs didn’t really work out as well. Anyway, what’s written on paper in the summer doesn’t mean much, anything can happen during the season. That’s why I am glad Voky signed with Pittsburgh, I think he did the best thing he could. I’m sure his wife and other guys advised him as well, but maybe my opinion helped him decide as well.

That is some straight talk from the goalie who really has carried this team’s water for the past two seasons. You may not agree with his assessment of Braden Holtby, and you almost certainly find his tolerance of Pittsburgh detestable, but the kid has earned the right to speak.

Now stay tuned, ’cause the next part of this interview is even wilder.

Translated by the inestimable Karolina Martinková of hockey-on.blogspot.cz. Ian Oland contributed to this report.

  • http://twitter.com/VeggieTart Danielle

    What are you smoking, Neuvy? If it weren’t for Holtby, the Caps would not have gotten nearly as far in the playoffs as they did.

  • Holy_Cal

    Holtby carried our team. I don’t really care if Neuvy wears #30 for us ever again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/blueliner34 Steve Hickey

    good. maybe we need a true goalie rivalry in DC. Neuvy until you stay healthy or earn the the #1 you can keep talking.

  • Al Jensen

    Wow, he kind of sounds like a dick. Not cool, neuvy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jacobshapiro Jake Shapiro

    I feel like something was lost in the translation from Czech here. I don’t think he meant to sound so mean!

  • http://twitter.com/Bagace Barb Agace

    I read it as him comparing Holtby to Varly and Volkoun, not himself. What’s the issue?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Barb, I think — by the numbers — Neuvy is probably right. We’ll know for sure this year. I think the perceived transgression of talking outside of class is the issue, since the substance of the statement isn’t that crazy on its merit.

  • Mac

    He didnt sound arrogant to me, just straightforward in an eastern european way of saying things. He was still respectful of the others. And had sturm not fallen on neuvy, holtby might have not had the chance in the playoffs. You never know. Who cares?! I like both our goalies and a little rivalry/competition keeps the fire going in the tandem. It’s healthy.

  • http://twitter.com/vtcapsfan99 vtcapsfan99

    I agree with you. I thought he had a reasonable explanation for his thoughts on Holtby (although I would point out to Neuvy that he kind of sucked against Tampa and Holtby didn’t suck that way in the playoffs). Neuvy’s assessment of saying Varly and Vokoun are better than Holtby at this time is also fair in my opinion, I would agree with him.

    Very interesting look inside Neuvy’s head, I look forward to part 2. I hope it contains some thoughts on why he struggled last season and how he will change to overcome those issues.

  • John

    His statement about Holtby should never happen. You don’t say that about a player you are in the same locker room with. You lose respect in the locker room. It would be like Backstrom saying thank god Ribeiro is here, finally another talented C on the team, implying Laich isn’t talented.Everyone that likes Laich would be upset at Backstrom for making a statement like that even though we all know its true. The players have pride and statements like this will be taken the wrong way by a lot of people.

  • http://twitter.com/PdelP Patti del Pielago

    Can I just say that aside from his cold, Eastern European, weird/quirky goalie ways, I still love this guy. Clearly he needs that “i’m better than you” mentality going into this season (well….that is if this season actually happens).

    p.s. Don’t you love how Neuvy looks perpetually afraid in every photo?? It’s as if he’s afraid that each picture will try and take his soul away :)

  • GovtMinion

    I’m a diehard Bruins fan living in the D.C. area- so as you might imagine, I paid pretty close attention to that first round series last year (yes, the tall guy wearing the B’s jersey on Metro was me). Since I’m poor and don’t have a package that includes NESN, I watch a lot of the Caps during the season. And you know what? Straight-up, Holtby earned that series win. Neuvirth… based on what I’ve seen from him in those 100 NHL games, I don’t think it would have gone to seven games- it would have been a Bruins victory in five, six tops.

    Holtby was a monster in that series- Neuvirth, unless he has a serious rabbit left to pull out of his hat, wouldn’t have given the Caps nearly as good of a chance to succeed. He can mouth all he wants, but if he really thinks he can win the starting job this year, he needs to show it- because what I’ve seen the past few years was a kid who just couldn’t quite get in front of Varlamov, Vokoun, or Holtby. Prove me wrong, pal.

  • WashCapsRock

    Simmer down people. Remember this was a translation so sometimes things get taken out of context. Neuvy is a sweetheart and I don’t think he was trying to put Holtby down. We have 2 great young netminders that will serve us well.

  • http://twitter.com/Couteret Ben

    Yeah I don’t see it as he is putting Holtby downs, it’s just that Holtby doesn’t have the same pedigree as Varly and Vokoun.

  • http://twitter.com/priscillamay1 Priscilla Villanueva

    Sounds pretty straightforward to me: completely honest and completely true. He said that Holtby is his easiest competition for the number one goalie spot yet, and he’s absolutely right. All things equal, Holtby is much easier competition than Varly and Vokie. Like, by miles. So pretty please, with cherries on top…let’s not twist his words, because frankly, I’m tired of these players saying the same thing and saying nothing all at the same time. They do that because people are always taking their statements out of context.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1005713165 Pat Magee

    Neuvy is a playoff stud, and so is Holtby. This is the tandem we’ve been looking for!

  • Mkpanda78

    I’m so confused. Holtby’s friends with Hartnell and Neuvy is a Penguin advocate? Clearly Sasha was the glue of this team.

  • short term memory

    “That is some straight talk from the goalie who really has carried this team’s water for the past two seasons.”

    did the person who wrote this actually ever watch the caps the last two seasons?

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  • hols

    Is this (blogs.thescore.com/nhl/2012/06/11/a-cold-game-the-many-ways-hockey-discourages-personality/) relevant to how people see Neuvy’s comments? I think so. Anyway, for what it’s worth, I agree with him and don’t see what’s the big deal with his comments. He doesn’t (imo) sound mean and/or condescending either. Basically, I agree with what a lot of people are saying here.

  • Matdina

    I’m from Czech Republic and this is a good translation. :) Neuvy said this and I don’t think that this interview is mean. The interview is very long but RMNB selected the important. :) BTW: Neuvy for example said that Ovie is very good hockey player and it’s better that Semin left him. Semin has a bad morality- Neuvy’s opinion. (I don’t think so…)

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I wrote it. Watched all but 5 games and wrote like 150 recaps about it. Sigh. You have hurt my feelings, mister troll. Well done.

  • DougE

    I don’t think he comes across as mean, he seems more like a douche bag than anything else. I had never felt this way about Neuvy until I read this.

  • Matdina

    Neuvy don’t afraid say what he thinks :)

  • Mark

    So now everyone who is honest is a douche bag or a mean person? He didn’t say ANYTHING, that ‘s not true.
    He compares Holtby to Vokoun and Varlamov, not himself. Note the part, where he says: ”
    I’m definitely not saying that he is bad, not at all. I actually like the way he plays.” Nowhere in this interview he didn’t say he doesn’t respect him, that Holtby wasn’t great in playoffs.
    The fact he advised Vokoun to go to Pitts is completely normal, I don’t think Vokie would have had a chance against two young passionate goalies and I think he will make a great tandem with Fleury. What was Neuvy supposed to do, tell him to go to play to some way worse club? They’re FRIENDS, friends give each other useful advice.

    If you don’t understand what you read, read it twice. Or more times, read it as many times as you need.

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  • DougE

    No, not everyone that is honest is a douche bag. Neuvy just comes across douchy here. I’ve never thought that of him until I read this. Again, I don’t think he comes across as mean or bad intending, just douchy.

  • Robert

    I agree with Jake. I’d like to meet the translator.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    We’ll be posting a note about that issue shortly.

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  • mister troll

    So then you saw him become his team’s starting goalie in 2011 right?

    The aim was not to hurt your feelings, but question your general ability as a journalist, which clearly as evidence of this statement “That is some straight talk from the goalie who really has carried this team’s water for the past two seasons.”, is extremely lackluster.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I’m enough of a journalist to know that A) your argument has no substance (Neuvy has played more than half of all games in the last two seasons), and B) “extremely lackluster” is bad writing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pontus.duvefelt Pontus Duvefelt

    I disagree with him “having carried the team”. The Caps have done well during the regular seasons DESPITe their goaltending, not because of it. And Neuvy wasn’t anywhere near being as good as Holtby, when he had the chance to start in the playoffs the year before. If Holtby is the weakest of the three, Neuvy defenitly is the weakest of the four. My opinion

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Games in last 2 seasons: 164
    Games Neuvy played in last 2 season: 86

    That’s more than half.

    And while playoff games are more valuable than regular season, I don’t think you can make good decisions based off that performance. For now, there’s not enough evidence YET that Holtby is better than Neuvy overall. It’ll take more time to know how truly good both players are.

    Further, if Neuvy is talking about experience alone, then he is objectively correct about Holtby being the weakest yet.

  • can’t write good

    You know when you say he’s carried his team’s water you imply he’s been a waterboy right? Or are you not enough of a journalist to know that?

  • Peter

    Genuinely one of the dumbest and most pedantic comments I’ve ever got. You sir are going in my scrapbook.

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